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In the Library: Poetry and the Book Arts

Past Exhibition

July 10 – September 29, 2023
East Building, Ground Level - Library

Weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Since we first put pen to paper—or stylus to clay tablet—text and image have coexisted. But at the end of the 19th century, their relationship became the focus of books published for collectors and booklovers. Come explore poetry, works of art, and fine printing in a range of artists’ and fine press books. These works from the National Gallery of Art Library demonstrate how artists, writers, typographers, printers, papermakers, and bookbinders meld the visual and the verbal to create books that engage all of the reader’s senses. In this type of bookwork, poetry is ideal: its forms spur typographers and binders to push the limits of design, and its language inspires the same kind of reflection in a reader as visual art prompts in a viewer. Poems may be illustrated by an artist or written in response to a work of art. With modern poetry’s brief and evocative language, visual elements find space to thrive, yielding a symbiotic relationship between text and image that is more difficult with blocks of prose.

Explore Selected Works

Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Admission is always free and passes are not required

Banner detail: Tia Blassingame (artist and poet), Black: A Handbook (New Haven, CT: Primrose Press, 2022). Copy 26 of 40. National Gallery of Art Library, David K. E. Bruce Fund